Opportunities Gained and Lost

My day was sabotaged, in between normal collection-from-school and pool cleaning and editing tasks, by the observation by Much Better Half that a drain kept drizzling although rain had only reigned some time ago.  This led me to wonder if my existing ladder could conceivably get me up far enough to inspect the gutter. To my surprise it did, and I cleared out piles of gunge which were blocking the pipe and making a pond up there.

This had me wondering if the ladder would possibly reach the sensor of a light previously operated by movement detection which is a great help when we go down to the cottage after dark.  This stopped working when our painter was overenthusiastic with a pressure cleaner in that area.  I discovered with further surprise that from the top of the ladder, and clinging to a handy pipe sticking out of the wall, I could actually reach it …

Much testing followed.  The light fittings were fine. I had previously inspected them, because they are lower and far easier to reach. Using my handy remote voltage tester (it goes ‘pip-pip-pip’ when placed near a live wire) I established there was current running to the sensor, so it was obviously defective. With some impressive feats of balancing, I managed to break it loose. The screws securing it were beyond any hope of turning. Then I bridged the connection. Voila! A light which was switch-onable-and-offable from inside!  Taped the connector, and tucked it under a beam.  Another sensor can go in later, if the mood takes me.

It was then time to take R to a Swimming Squad gala — her mother was at a meeting. The evening was cold, windy and unpleasant, but the event has been put off twice already, so the school persisted.  R did creditably, if unplaced, in backstroke and breaststroke, but my pictures didn’t turn out too well.  I geared myself up for her freestyle event, and took a brilliant sequence from dive to a finish in second place. I was just packing my camera away with a satisfied smirk when I heard some other parents yelling, ‘Come on R; go R!’  The kid I had watched was of similar build and from the same house, but had been in the event previous to R’s!

Long before I could get my camera out again, she completed the race. In first place. Aaaargh!

Oh well. Here is another shot from the Benvie garden featured in my previous post.


© October 2016 Colonialist (WordPress)


Posted in DIY, Grandchildren, Humour, Personal Journal, Photography, Swimming | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

A stroll in a tiny garden …


‘Benvie’ is a garden in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands, at Karkloof some 15 Km beyond Howick, which was established in 1882 by a Scottish immigrant cabinet maker, John Geekie. Naturally (haha) his interest was mainly in trees, and there are some really old conifers and eucalypts.  Some of the latter (mountain ash) have a circumference of some seven metres.  However, his garden allowed space for sweeping lawns, and vivid colour is added by, mainly, rhododendrons and azaleas.  There are also water features and a stream, and birds abound.

You might imagine that this would have taken some space, and probably expect a couple of acres, or a hectare? Actually, the garden occupies some 30 hectares, or 74 acres! The ‘stroll’ on the main path open to visitors is about two kilometres long.  Arrangements to view can be made with John Geekie’s great granddaughter, in residence.

Our visit just over a week ago was part of my birthday celebration, and we started with lunch at Yellowwood Café just outside Howick, which has a distant view of Howick Falls, boasts farm animals including a miniature horse  (a pig bit young R, but she was careless) yellowwood-cafe

as well as some buck which had left the scene before I got my camera ready, and donkeys in football jerseys. yellowwood-zebra

On to a small selection of the pictures I took of  the garden:


benvie-hedge benvie-below-car-park benvie-pond-1 benvie-pond-2 benvie-pond-3 benvie-woods

Finally, we returned via a stop for afternoon tea at The Farmer’s Daughter on the outskirts of Howick which boasts this view of a branch of the gorge into which the falls plunge.gorge-from-farmers-daughter

© October 2016 Colonialist (WordPress)
Posted in Africa, Excursiohs, Gardens, Nature, Personal Journal, Photography | Tagged , , , , | 22 Comments

Fatal flash





To mimic kick may fade; but insulate

From park, to where flash got into state

To spin on rim and flip

Stepped over line, with way past limit trip.

© October 2016 Colonialist (WordPress)
Posted in Poems, Rhyme, Wordle | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Localities … locali-tease … localit-ease …


If our Local you would see,
Here is one locality,
Down the road, in easy reach,
It is known as Kiya Beach.


And another, not too far,
Point Yacht Club is where we are.


Show our little cottage, let’s —
That’s as local as it gets!

© October 2016 Colonialist (WordPress)
Posted in Africa, Beach, Challenge, Colonialist, Photography, Really Awful Rhyme, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

If Only …

‘If only …’ is one of the most heart-wrenching ways to begin a phrase after a tragic event.  ‘If only I had checked all seat belts were on …’,  ‘If only a doctor had been consulted sooner …’, ‘If only I had shown how much I cared …’; or, ‘If only we had left a minute earlier or later …’, ‘If only I had known then what I know now …’, ‘If only he had never even started’.  The first group might have some benefit for future behaviour; the second are exercises in futility — but one can’t help indulging in such exercises, anyway.

Puppy Zippo

Zippo as pup.

A case in point is next-door neighbour’s dog, Zippo, who was the apple of her recently departed husband’s eye and her solace after she recently lost her mother as well. The little Jack Russell would bark incessantly for hours if she went out, though her other two dogs were content in one another’s company. After successful experiments, on the many occasions she came over for a meal or visit she took to bringing Zippy with her. She soon learnt to get on with our own cats and dogs, and in due course even the kittens grew big enough to teach her respect and no longer had to be confined to the bedroom during visits.

This developed to a point that if the neighbour went out elsewhere and wasn’t going to be back too late we invited her to deposit Zippy with us.  The problem was when she was going to return late, or when we were out. Zip found ways of getting under, over or through various places and would arrive in our grounds without being able to get back. We started calling her Houdini Hound.

We found, and I blocked, these places one by one.  The latest was high up a wall and my blocking left a tiny gap between a pillar and slats, obviously too small for her to get through.

Last week the neighbour was called away on an emergency and we heard Zip yapping incessantly close to our fence.  Then she stopped.  A bit later we got a call from the now returned neighbour — no sign of Zip.  We searched our grounds, and then I went up and down the street on foot while the neighbour on the other side, whom I had met and told about it, set off to range further on his motorbike.  We returned simultaneously from opposite directions just in time to hear Zippy’s owner screaming and crying hysterically.  She let us in and pointed to the side of the house, where we found the poor little dog hanging with her neck caught firmly in that tiny gap I had left, bleeding profusely.



It took the teamed efforts of both of us to free her, and Younger Daughter and Much Better Half phoned frantically to find an emergency vet.  The only one available was on the far side of Durban. MBH stayed with the kids, and neighbour was too distraught to accompany us. I held Zippy and stroked and kept her warm while YD drove — what a time for the satellite navigator to lose signal every few minutes!   Finally we had to get directions from a petrol station.

The vet was ready and waiting. Alas, dear Zip’s injuries were too severe, and taking into account that she was fifteen years old, the kindest thing was euthanasia.  We were devastated — it was almost like losing one of our own ‘family’.  YD wept, and I suddenly got some dust in my eyes.

Later came the ‘if onlies’.  If only I had closed that small gap, impossibly high and small though it was. If only we had gone over and taken her after she started yapping. If only we had searched her own grounds first.  If only we had investigated as soon as she stopped barking.  If only, hurried though her departure had been, neighbour had left the dog with us; or if only we had given up and left Zip’s private one-way route open.

Finally, I pointed out how futile these regrets were. Everyone agreed … but then started again. As I have said, it is hard not to.

© October 2016 Colonialist (WordPress)
Posted in Dogs, Personal Journal, pets, Philosophy | Tagged , , , | 18 Comments

Lost at Sea

Ketch (Wiki)

Ketch (Wiki)

Wordle 269 — in order given, scanning, and with rhyme.

Wordle 269 — in order given, scanning, and with rhyme.







Tall needles, grown in soil, afloat spike sky;

Sails trim for trip and fill; the ketch is still in view

From bridge; eyes mist to see it passing by —

Breeze makes the wake a trail, my lost love pointing to.

© October 2016 Colonialist (WordPress)
Posted in Challenge, Ocean, Rhyme, sailing, Wordle | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Water Really Awful Fuss Over H2O

The current Daily Post Photo Challenge is, quite simply, H2O.

Saw number plate on beer van stuck
Which simply read: ‘H2O YUCK’


But still, when we are feeling low,
We tend to H2O to go,

With NaCl it may be,
Plus other salts found in the sea,

Or you may dive into a pool,
That’s dosed with Cl, as a rule;
You think pure H2O is rain?
Well, you would have to think again,
For it has Cl, P, N, S,
And lots of other stuff, I guess;

Most probably, you do not wish
To share a pond with lots of fish …

(With all of that, I think we orter
Just refer to it as water!)

© October 2016 Colonialist (WordPress)
Posted in Africa, Beach, Challenge, Humorous rhyme, Ocean, Photography, Really Awful Rhyme, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , | 15 Comments